Exclusive Eric Williams Interview
InsideHoops.com's Jeff Lenchiner,
New York City basketball street legend (in his own mind,
no one else's) met Eric Williams of the Boston Celtics,
and talked about various stuff. Williams stepped up
his game this season, and his rugged play helped Boston
achieve their success. This interview took place in
New Jersey during the 2002 Eastern conference finals.
Williams grew up in Newark, which isn't far from the
InsideHoops.com: So how's it feel
playing right near your home town?
Eric Williams: It's cool, you know, man, this is the
first time I've been in the playoffs, to get a chance
to play for a championship, be in the Eastern conference
finals, to be playing against New Jersey, where I grew
up at, family, friends, who have helped me get to where
I'm at, to show that appreciation and hard work in front
of them, it feels good.
InsideHoops.com: During the game, do you think about
that you know all these people in the crowd
Eric Williams: You can't help but to think about it,
that you're going to have a lot of people that probably
know you or have known about you that, even fans that's
not rooting for you, but they know I represent New Jersey,
they can identify where I'm at, and looking up to an
individual like myself who came from the inner city
and who made it.
InsideHoops.com: When someone like myself plays pickup
ball, youc an't help to notice who is on the sideline,
do you totally tune that out?
Eric Williams: Well, you're just playing basketball,
man, so like you'll be in the playground, and guys will
just be watching you play, and you do a move or make
a play... that's just basketball, man, you just gotta
go out there and have fun with it, and hopefully, you
gotta get the fans into it, because you know the fans
are coming out there and appreciating the way you play,
you can give them some kind of feedback, just a glance
or a look or a smile or a point, with a finger, the
fans really appreciate stuff like that, and that's a
memory that lasts forever.
InsideHoops.com: How young were you when you started
playing basketball, did you start really young?
Eric Williams: No, I didn't play ball until 12th grade,
basketball came late to me...
InsideHoops.com: What were you playing?
Eric Williams: Baseball. I played baseball, and that's
pretty much it. Basketball came late, this was, basketball
was the sport that I tried to master, I kind of mastered
baseball, so basketball was one of those things where
I wanted to master this game, so that's why I probably
play it the way I do.
InsideHoops.com: How'd you get turned on to basketball?
Eric Williams: My mom, my mom was just a basketball
fanatic, she knows everything, she's a Georgetown University
fan, always liked Patrick Ewing, later became a Knick
fan, and still is a Knick fan to tell the truth, and
she always had the game on at the house, whenever I'd
come in... once I grew from 6'1" to about 6'6", by that
time I was going into 12th grade, and that's when I
started wanting to play basketball, because, pretty
much basketball players always got the girl, and, you
know what I mean, and it was a sport played in the winter
months, in school, and mostly all the guys who played
basketball was pretty much the in crowd, and I just
picked the game up like that.
InsideHoops.com: And who made you good, besides yourself
and your own hard work?
Eric Williams: The city of Newark, playing in the streets
of Newark, I never played organized basketball, I always
played in the street, and just playing all the guys
that always played basketball in the street, from the
youngest to the street legends...
InsideHoops.com: Who'd you play with that I might know,
and who that I wouldn't?
Eric Williams: Well you know I played with guys like
Anthony Avent, Anthony Mason, these guys were pretty
much New York, in the city, New York and Newark area...
guys you probably won't know are Antonio, they called
him "Dutney" - because he'll do you - Neglee, a black
man, Reggie Collins... these guys, pretty much street
legends, could probably play in the NBA right now.